We all dream of “wow” experiences that will make us feel great. But for most of us, lounging on a tropical beach or scuba diving in the Maldives are not part of our daily lives. But what about our special morning coffee, a good run, a friend’s phone call or a great book? These are the everyday things that are readily available to us, and can give us a steady dose of joy. That’s the premise behind the section My Simple Joys.
Here’s a thing you notice when hanging out with FACE Stockholm‘s president Martina Afrwidson: she laughs a lot. A brunette with a thick pony tail and arms that look like she has practiced Ashtanga yoga since birth, Martina is an irresistible mix of intellectual and fun. The result? As with a tornado, you can’t help but being drawn in.
The only child of color maven Gun Nowak — who launched the Scandinavian makeup brand in 1982 — Martina expertly runs the company’s U.S. division. Together with her husband, chef David Weiss and their two children, she lives in upstate New York in a restored country home filled with Swedish antiques and flea market finds. Her mom’s house is a three-minute-drive away, and the two can often be found in Gun’s converted barn — nicknamed the Brand Barn — mixing colors for their 160 shades of lipstick while laughing up a storm.
“Every day I feel blessed to have the life that I have,” says Martina, who still owns FACE Stockholm together with her mom despite numerous buy-out offers from larger beauty companies. “It was always more important for us to create a good life than to have a huge amount of cash in the bank. It’s not without challenges and difficulties. No one has an effortless existence and I’m no exception. But we’re healthy, we’re free to be as creative as we like and we have fun. What else can you possibly ask for?”
For this month’s Simple Joys, Martina offers a peek inside her private life and the things — and people — that bring her joy.
Road Warrior: My grandmother Karin Thunberg was one of the first female race car drives in the world. She drove the Monte Carlo Rally in a Model T Ford, wearing a leather hat. My husband has a vintage Alpha Romeo convertible, and every time I get behind the wheel I can feel her spirit. She was a very unusual woman for her time; independent, strong and courageous. She didn’t let anyone hold her back. Driving that car makes me feel like anything is possible.
Flower Power: My whole life, I’ve wanted a porch surrounded by wisteria. Nine years ago, we bought an old house on the Hudson River. I found a root of wisteria in another end of the garden, chopped it off and planted it next to the porch. It grew like crazy and now, for two weeks every year, our deck turns into this purple fantasy land. It feels like sitting inside a Japanese painting.
Morning Routine: Every morning, I mix two tablespoons of olive oil and the juice from half a lemon and drink it. For breakfast I eat whole grain toast with cheddar cheese, then I start on my enormous pot of strong black tea. Around 10 am, I’ll make a green smoothie with parsley, apple, spinach, cucumber, ginger, kale, celery and a little pomegranate on top if I have it at home. After that, I’ll have my coffee! I swear it keeps me healthy and gives me lots of energy.
The Joys of Motherhood: I love that I waited to have kids. I had a pretty intense lifestyle before I became a mom. I traveled and worked and did everything I could imagine and went everywhere I wanted to go. I’m so grateful for my children [Theodore and Nikita] on so many levels. I’m enjoying motherhood so immensely, because there is nowhere I’d rather be than with them. I love putting them to bed at night and reading them stories, and there is not a restaurant or a dinner I’d rather go to.
Body & Mind: I’m a little bit upset about my body changing! I feel my knees when I run. I’m stiff when I get up from the floor. My skin is changing. But besides that, I’m so happy to be where I am today. I had so much anxiety when I was younger, and it’s really nice to know who you are and to be cool with that. I surround myself with people that I love and who makes me feel good about being me. It’s one of the best things about getting older.
Treasured Possessions: I keep this Buddha statue on a shelf in my living room. I’m not devoted to any religion — on the other side of the room is an old stone angel that looks Catholic — but I find beauty in these items. That Buddha statue always reminds me that I should meditate. The only form of meditation I do is running. I live for my runs, which I do about twice a week in hills and with no music. But I’d love to learn how to meditate and actually commit to it. I’ve tried, and it’s hard for me, which is clearly a sign that I need to do it!
Three generations: My parents divorced when I was six years old, so I’ve always been close with my mother. But if someone had told me as a child that I’d be working with my mom, I would’ve screamed ‘No!’ We’re uniquely different people, but that’s probably why it’s worked out so well. We’re two halves of a whole. My mom is the creative genius and I’m the organizer and diplomat. And we laugh so much! It was a challenging at first when I became a mom myself. As a daughter, you separate yourself a little as you create your own family. And I think it was hard for my mom to let go. Suddenly her child was an authority on her own children! But she has a tremendous amount of love for me and my family, and I love that we’re in this together.
• Ulrica Wihlborg
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